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10.08.17

Depressing State of Affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s becoming all about litigation, not patents

Scott Pruitt's Crimes Against Nature
Reference: Scott Pruitt’s Crimes Against Nature

Summary: The slow, agonising disintegration of the EPO as seen from the lens of insiders, many of whom are baffled by the self-harm inflicted by EPO management

THE EPO has truly become a catastrophe. Employees of the EPO are unable to grasp how or why this was tolerated. Could the Organisation not see that the head of the Office was a deranged individual whose grim vision would doom the Office? Is it possible that the Organisation — or at least some delegates there — did not mind this destruction if that meant an ascent of the UPC? Whatever the case may be (and there’s room for speculation), the EPO is expected to lay off many of its employees next year. It’s simple mathematics, seeing how the number of applications continues to decline while files are processed faster than ever (which is not a good thing as it’s indicative of low quality). Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality (or inability to decline patent grants based on thorough, in-depth analysis).

“Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality…”We have been writing about the EPO for about a decade and covered it more closely since the summer of 2014. Things have gotten a lot worse since. As a reminder, patent litigation in Germany is soaring, mostly because of patent trolls. This is good for patent law firms, but it’s bad for everybody else. Well, maybe the local hospitality business benefits from housing of claimants and plaintiffs, but what good is that in the long term? And who for? At whose expense?

The other day we saw a press release about a new lawsuit in Germany over an EP [1, 2], followed by something about the shares [1, 2].

“The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation.”Earlier today Patently-O wrote about Bayer, the German company that had bought Monsanto, suing companies over genetics (using patents that oughtn’t even exist).

This litigation was in the US:

Bayer sued Dow for infringement, but a prior agreement forced to the case to arbitration and a $455 arbitration award for Bayer that was affirmed by the Federal Circuit.

[...]

Unlike many areas of law, the Patent Act includes a particular provision recognizing voluntary arbitration of patent dispute. 35 U.S.C. 294. The provision indicates that the Federal Arbitration Act (Title 9) should be followed “to the extent such title is not inconsistent with this section.” The statute particularly provides that the ordinary defenses to patent infringement “shall be considered by the arbitrator if raised.”

The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation. Days ago Marks & Clerk employees were updating or reposting their old stuff (which we covered before). Thomas Prock and Will Nieuwenhuys once again pushed out puff pieces about UPC and patentability tricks. They try hard to encourage the harvesting of low-quality patents to be followed by litigation. But as people in the US found out, low-quality patents untilmately lead to low confidence in the potency of one’s patents and thus sharp decrease in litigation.

It’s hard to tell what the EPO will look like in 5 or 10 years (if it even exists at that stage), but certainly Battistelli now faces a crisis of his own making.

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